People acknowledge World Mental Health Day on the 10th of October every year. This commemoration reinforced the prominence of mental health in times of lockdown, isolation, and several aspects being morphed profoundly capsized, as COVID-19 has accorded this day a historic situation, provoking us, in the digital world, to recognize the relevance of mental health in times of quarantine, isolation, disconnection, and several things being flipped. The prevalence of remote work as part of the new normal is consistently expanding around the world, with the majority of companies allowing their employees to work remotely either indefinitely or until the situation gets better. But does working remotely benefit our mental health?
According to FlexJobs’ seventh annual survey of more than 3,000 respondents in coordination with Mental Health America (MHA), 86% of participants indicated that increased employment versatility could allow employees to manage efficient care of overall mental health, while the same percentage of people said it would also allow them to reduce stress. Furthermore, 66% of respondents said they would prefer to work remotely full-time even after the pandemic is over. With these results, it is evident that working remotely encompasses benefits may it be in the physical, social, financial, and most importantly, the mental aspect of life.
With the rise of COVID-19, the world’s population was expected to work remotely, and companies were compelled to augment their remote working plans sooner than expected. According to a recent ZenBusiness report, while transitioning to this dynamic place has been a complex process for some organizations, many people have flourished from the transformation.
Aside from the benefits to their mental health, several respondents indicated that working remotely has improved their physical health. 40% of respondents reported their diet had changed for the better, and 44% said they were exercising more. The influence of remote working on an employee’s life is frequently inextricably linked to the scale of the company for which they work. Apart from freelancers, the study found that people in large companies had the highest results (55%), followed by those in mid-sized enterprises (46%), and finally, small businesses (43%). Furthermore, the poll discovered significant generational inequalities between age groups. Spending more time with family and friends is beneficial to 63 percent of individuals under the age of 25. Remote work made 44 percent of respondents feel more productive.
Moreover, in the articles The Benefits of Working From Home by Emily Courtney, Why Remote Work is Good for Your Mental Health by Christine Bernier Lienke, and 5 Ways How Working Remotely Can Benefit Our Mental Health by Ala Papaj, they enumerated how working remotely positively affects individuals amidst the pandemic and even after the pandemic.
First is working remotely provides a better work-life balance wherein the majority of remote jobs come with flexible hours, allowing employees to start and stop their days whenever they like, as long as their work is completed and produces positive results. When it comes to adhering to the needs of one’s personal life, having control over one’s work schedule can be really beneficial.
The second benefit is reduced stress when commuting to an onsite office. According to statistics, the average one-way commuting time in the United States is 27.1 minutes, which means commuters spend about an hour each day traveling to and from work, and they spend around 100 hours commuting and 41 hours trapped in traffic each year. Some “extreme” commuters have travel times of 90 minutes or longer each way. Commuting, on the other hand, is one of the inconveniences of getting to and from work. More than 30 minutes of daily one-way commuting is linked to greater levels of stress and anxiety, and studies show that driving 10 miles to work each day is linked to health hazards such as elevated cholesterol, blood sugar, and an increased risk of heart disease.
Third, companies can embrace diversity and inclusion by hiring people from a variety of socioeconomic, regional, and cultural backgrounds and perspectives, which can be difficult to do when recruiting is limited to a single location that not everyone wants to live near or can afford.
Lastly, working remotely typically results in fewer interruptions, fewer office politics, lower noise levels, and fewer or more productive meetings. Remote workers often have more time and fewer distractions, resulting in higher productivity—a major benefit of working from home for both individuals and companies. When executed properly, remote work encourages workers and businesses to ensure the best possible results.
Consequently, in an article entitled, Healthier at Home authored by Lynne N. Kennette, a professor of psychology at Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, and Phoebe S. Lin, an associate professor of psychology at Framingham State University where her research interests are in the psychology of prejudice and inclusive teaching practices, they conducted a review exploring literature related to the benefits professionals have experienced because of working remotely amidst the pandemic’s unprecedented experience. In the article, they reviewed physiological, psychological, and motivational factors; creativity; emotion regulation; job satisfaction; and productivity—primarily from the perspective of employees.
The benefits of working remotely have helped them prioritize self-care and mental health. They’ve been able to prioritize self-care and mental wellness success can be attributed to the advantages of asynchronous employment. Because of the versatility in planning, they have already been able to keep in touch outside, work out more, unwind more, and maintain a healthy balanced diet. By reducing long round-trip trips, they have also already secured money and regained at least 2 hours every day. They’ve been considerably more efficient and have taken full advantage of more internet training and professional development than they could have in person. Remote meetings nowadays are entirely feasible thanks to technological improvements, and they’ve discovered that recording these sessions improves accountability, convenience, and efficiency. Multitasking is possible with some internet webinars, workshops, and meetings, such as cooking supper and tuning in at the same time. Academic instructors can also benefit from increased accessibility for interactions with their students. They can set up more remote work hours than they did before the pandemic when they were unable to work from home on some days and had to spend time traveling. Finally, they have discovered that remaining in the protection of their houses is psychologically comforting, particularly in the current uncertain world.
With the benefits mentioned in the article, it is indeed certain that working remotely possesses advantages that individuals would greatly enjoy. However, it is also acknowledged in the article that given the wide range of work requirements, personal dynamics, family responsibilities, financial capabilities, and other factors, they acknowledge that these benefits may not be available to everyone working from home. The benefits of remote work remain controversial. Remote work enables a better balance of home and work life, increased flexibility, and autonomy, reduction in commuting time, increased productivity, and higher morale and job satisfaction. On the other hand, remote work can result in social isolation and marginalization, which increases the stress on workers. Nevertheless, once the pandemic fades and life returns to “normal,” they believe that work-from-home arrangements should be extended to employees who can benefit in the long run, just as they have been.
Written By: Frances De Guzman